Russia made moves toward a new Middle Eastern alliance, and Maliki’s Iraq delivered a rebuke to America yesterday, when Iraq accepted the delivery of Russian jet fighters to help in the battle against ISIS. Haaretz reports:
The first five Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft would enter service in “three to four days,” according to the report. […] At the same time, Maliki criticized the United States for taking too long to deliver F-16 jets ordered by Iraq. On Friday, Iraqi Air Force Commander Hameed al-Maliki confirmed that he had signed contracts for the purchase of Russian MI-35 and MI-28 attack helicopter to “keep up the momentum” in the attacks against the Sunni insurgents, Ruptly news agency reported.
The delivery of these jets indicates an emerging Russian tilt toward the Shia powers in the Middle East crisis. Historically, this is an oddity, given Russia’s longstanding support for the secular Sunni government of Saddam Hussein. But in the current context, it makes sense.Russia had already been the principle backer of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War, and it sees Shiite Iran as a partner in the region. Meanwhile, Putin fears Sunni radicalism more than Shia radicalism. Among other concerns, there are Chechens fighting on the side of ISIS and its allies in Iraq and Syria. Given America’s very public doubts over whether to assist the Maliki government, Russia clearly sees an opening.The New York Times reports that it sent not only jets but also experts to assist Iraq. Ordinary Iraqis, unfortunately, are about to learn more about the resource curse. Iraq’s oil wealth will ensure a huge flow of advanced weapons into the civil war, driving the death and devastation to horrifying levels.